Great Business Ideas: Age-sensitive management

Great Small Business Ideas to Start: Age-sensitive management

Understanding the traits and desires of the different age groups present in the workplace will allow you to provide them with the incentives and motivation they truly value, improving overall corporate performance and morale.

The idea

Tesco, one of Britain’s most successful retailers, employs people of different age groups so that their workforce is more representative of society as a whole. This enables Tesco to relate well to all its customers, who have a wide range of ages.

The contemporary workplace contains four age groups:

  • Silent veterans over 64 years old
  • Baby boomers aged 45–63
  • Generation Xers aged 30–44.
  • Generation Y aged 29 years and under.

Age-sensitive management suggests that these different groups have different expectations, and therefore require different management techniques and performance-based incentives.

Although it is not foolproof, it can provide a general guide to possible differences in the expectations of young and old employees. With an aging workforce and shifting demographics, the manager who can motivate regardless of age has a significant advantage.

In practice

The value of age-sensitive management is that employees are more motivated and customers are better served. The key is certainly not to discriminate on the basis of age, but rather to be sensitive to the attitudes of all your employees. What one group favors may not encourage or motivate another group of people of a different age.

  • Silent veterans tend to have the most traditional ideas of interaction, favoring formal contact and face-to-face meetings. They typically value recognition of their skills and abilities.
  • When managing b aby boomers, clearly define goals and break down the process into a series of individual targets. Place an emphasis on teamwork and motivational talks. Rewards should be public, with noticeable displays of recognition.
  • Allow Generation Xers slightly more freedom to achieve their targets: tell them what to do, but allow them to decide how to achieve the goal. Keep channels of communication open to allow ideas, opinions, and feedback to be discussed in a candid and honest way. Practical rewards, such as days off or monetary bonuses, are welcomed.
  • Generation Y should be given plenty of opportunities to build their skills and experience—view yourself as both an instructive guide and a boss. Find out their personal goals, and make broader company targets relevant to those individual goals. Communication should be informal and positive.
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